Bedtime Story: Hunger, Haiti, and Stinky Hands

December 14th, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Miscellany

Ever since F started kindergarten (and we shipped C off to daycare 12 hours a week), both girls have been completely zonked on the weekends. Deep-fried. Zombies. And, as a result, they have flashes of being insufferably annoying on the weekends. Impatient. Whiny. Rage-filled. Ever see a 5-year-old

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girl go bananas and repeatedly punch a couch when you tell her she can’t play any more “video games” on the Nick Jr. homepage? Not pretty. (Funny, actually. But not pretty.)

So, miracle upon miracles, they were both persuaded to take a nap Sunday. At the same time! This is something that, like Halley’s comet, only happens every 75 years,

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so I’m looking forward to the next double-nap day when I’m 110. (Forget double rainbows: double naps make me weep with joy faster than any beardy stoned hiker having a psilocybin-fueled epiphany.) F napped for 90 minutes, C for 3 freaking hours! The naps lasted so long that I was unable to actually relax and enjoy the profoundly rare tranquility because I was pretty sure some kind of freaky Jonestown shit was going on in their rooms.

Lucky for all of us, no freaky Jonestown shit went down (though I can definitely see the younger one turning into some messianically charismatic cult-leader type down the road). They woke up, bleary-eyed, slow, and fuzzy-headed. Adorable.

Small problem, though: the corollary to this giant napgasm was that—when bed time rolled around and daddy was dying to unwind with some scotch and porn the newspaper—nobody was tired. Nobody wanted to go to bed.

Here’s how it went Sunday night:

7:30: F actually uncharacteristically announces she is ready for bed. I am fairly certain she is

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7:45: Teeth are brushed and bedtime books are selected.
8:01: I do a dramatic reading of “Cat in the Hat” that gets a little too intense (I mean, the goldfish was PISSED and I needed to do it justice) … making C cry. I tone it down.
8:03: F is convinced to lie in bed while I put her sister in her crib. By “convinced,” I mean “I handed my BlackBerry to the 5-year-old so she can play BrickBreaker while I plead with the 2-year-old to go to sleep.”
8:05: When I attempt to put C, said 2-year-old, into her

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8:07: C, who does not eat anything (at all, ever) announces she has ended her hunger strike. “I’m so huuuungry.” Daddy would normally suspect a stalling tactic, but decides to give her some food just so he doesn’t get arrested for starving her to death.
8:09: Just as I am sneaking C past her sister’s room (petrified of the fallout should F learn that her sister is getting to go back downstairs for Secret Fun and Mermaid Unicorns), C shouts: “MY SISTER IS SLEEPING!??”
8:11: C is happily cramming fistfuls of smoked salmon into her gob (she won’t eat jelly, yogurt, cheese or a thousand other kid-staples, but she totally macks on some lox) and

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listening to Raffi. I sneak back upstairs to tuck F in.
8:15: Retrieve my BBerry, rub F on her back, sing her a song, kiss her head and close the door.
8:16: Return to kitchen, pour a glass of wine that’s

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8:26: I hear F leave her room. I dash up to intercept her before she realizes that her sister is still awake while—injustice of all injustices—she’s in solitary confinement. I scoop her up and put her in bed. She

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tells me she has been having bad dreams about Haiti.

Oh, for fuck’s sake.

“Why did their houses fall down?” she wants to know.

“There was an earthquake, it’s over now. Everyone is going to be fine,” I lie.

She is momentarily convinced. “What’s an earthquake,” she wants to know. I actually—no joke—begin a discourse on plate tectonics at half-past bedtime while her 2-year-old sister sits unsupervised in the kitchen, listening to

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a skipping Raffi CD and eating just-expired fish: “See, the world is made up of puzzle pieces under the ground,” I tell her. “And sometimes those puzzle pieces bump into each other, which causes the ground to shake. Haiti just happens to be on top of some puzzle pieces

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pieces that will surely open up the Earth and swallow her family whole someday, so I hasten to add: “New York is safe though! They only have earthquakes in Haiti. And California.” [HUGE tactical error: this is where Nana and Papa live. Fortunately she lets it slide.]

8:36: She agrees to try to sleep. I run back down stairs.
8:37: C greets me with a big smile. “Willabee-wallabee Waddy,” she sings. My heart melts. I pick her up and give her a hug. She rubs a fish-slimy hand all over my face and says: “STINKY HAAANDS!”
8:39: I lower her into her crib. She assents, miraculously, to lie down. I rub her back, sing her a song, ease on out the door.
8:39:02: I curl up on the couch with some scotch and porn the paper. And promptly fall asleep, fairly certain that the giant puzzle pieces under the earth are going to buckle,

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